Shouldn’t It Be Easier Than This?

The picture’s of that great country singer Charley Pride – for years the only established country music star of colour. The title’s a track from one of his more obscure albums ‘I’m Gonna Love Her On The Radio’ now read on:

Out of the blue I received this e mail from Alex Seguin (whom I did not know):
“I am writing from the USA and will be travelling soon. It is important to me to have an already activated Zain sim before I leave. Could I purchase one from you and have it mailed to me here? Best regards, Alex”

I replied:
“This has to count amongst the strangest requests ever! I’ll see what I can do. Send me your physical address

Alex replied:
“If you are able to find a zain sim, could you insure that the phone number/sim card is activated before you send it? Otherwise, the chip would be useless when I receive it since I won’t be in Zambia to activate it myself. How would be best to pay you?
(and he sent me his address)

Well, we’ve done it, activated it and sent it, hoping it arrives in time. I was going to do it for free, but then I had a brain wave. I decided the best way he could pay me was to find, download and send me a Charley Pride album I’ve been hunting for ages that was stolen from me years’ back and is really hard to get hold of, called “I’m Gonna Love Her On The Radio”. I took a shot in the dark and asked him.

Alex was raised in Texas and knows Charley’s music! He’s already sent me three stunning tracks (including of course ‘Shouldn’t It Be Easier Than This?’) and has found a cassette of the album which he’s put on a CD and sent me. One strange request deserves another, you could say! These tracks will feature on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm in the near future, probably on Jumbo’s ‘Down Memory Lane’ on a Tuesday night.

The internet? Amazing! I’ve asked him one last thing – how did he find us in the first place…….?
I’ll let you know!


Victoria Falls Marathon 2009

The third official Victoria Falls Marathon will be organised by Safari Par Excellence, Wild Horizons, and Wild Frontiers (Pty) Ltd with the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe, and will take place on 23 August 2009, in Zimbabwe.

The race has been measured at 42.2 km, a standard marathon, as well as the half marathon and a 5Km fun run, all are being run on predominantly tarmac roads. The race route has been measured by an IAAF representative. Water points will be provided along the route at clearly marked areas approx 4km apart. These will provide liquid refreshments, with some offering sponge points.

The main race will start opposite the Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe at 06.30 hrs and all runners must wear their running bib, clearly, on the front (not back). They will be provided with ‘bank bags’ for their race number for verification at the finish, which will be taken off them as soon as (and if, I guess) they cross the finish line. Cut off time for the race will be 12h30. All finishers will receive a medal and t-shirt.

The half marathon and fun run will start at staggered time after the main race has kicked off.

There you are then! “You’ll obviously be taking part Richard”, I hear you say. Mmmm probably not actually but jolly good luck to all those who do! Don’t forget to book your accommodation in Livingstone at Chanters Lodge for your visit! We’ll transfer you to the start by road…


Long Walk Home

My niece Frances Woolley (Long) posted this great picture of the falls at Meech Creek in Canada on Facebook. Initally when I saw the photo it looked like Frances and daughter Katy were tussling, so I sent “who won?” The terse answer “the mosquitos!” (I didn’t know you have them in Canada). Looking more closely at this super picture, taken by Luis Goddyn I believe they’re actually helping each other across the river……?

On receiving my request for more info Frances wrote:

“The waterfalls are on Meech Creek, a small creek coming out of Meech Lake. It’s a favourite hike of ours because of the beautiful ruins from an old abandoned fertilizer mill. The waterfall used to be used to power the fertilizer mill, now just the shell remains, and it almost has the feel of an outdoor cathedral. In warm weather the old mill is a favourite spot of naturists – nude sun bathers. (Apparently mostly middle aged men, so of no interest to Frances’ husband David!)

I love Meech Lake, and could write much more about it (sounds like it!), when Rachel and Sasha (Frances’ sister and nephew) came to visit in November, we took them up there too – Sasha had a blast climbing all over the ruins.”

Lovely place – wonderful picture!


Jeff Papps & Tiffany Homeshaw play 107.5 fm

“What does your husband say about you visiting Zambia and doing activities with another man?” Milli Jam cheekily asked Tiffany at the start of the latest edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient last Sunday, when Tiffany Homeshaw and Jeff Papps – the other man in question (pictured above) – guested on the latest edition of the show, which airs every Sunday at 20.00 hrs on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station. “He’s still working out how much ‘lobola’ to charge Jeff!” Replied Tiffany with a chuckle. Jeff being an Oxford University graduate, a high flying project accountant in Sydney Australia, and about 6′ 4″ tall and big with it, didn’t really look worried. He supports Chelsea though which bothered us!

Jeff and Tiffany’s friendship goes back some time. They met when Tiffany was sharing a flat with one of Jeff’s workmates at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Sydney. Both have their roots in England. They’ve kept in touch since that time despite Tiffany’s subsequent marriage and move away from Australia to South Africa. She now lives in Pretoria, Jeff still in Sydney. When she heard Jeff was going to finish a trip to South Africa (mostly to watch rugby) with a trip to Zambia to see Victoria Falls and to undertake some of the great activities available in the Livingstone area, she asked if she could ‘tag along’ too! The answer? A resounding ‘yes’. It’s the first time Tiffany’s been seperated from her baby son Fin, age one and a half, and the first time her husband’s been left in sole charge of the baby too! “Great stuff!” We said. “Worried?” We asked. “Only slightly!” She replied.

“What activities have you been doing then, since you arrived in Livingstone?” Milli Jam wanted to know (with a smile). “You mean apart from being poached to appear on this show” Tiffany quickly retorted. Touché! This happy couple went on to tell listeners about their wonderful sunset cruise on Lady Livingstone the previous day, and of their dramatic 30 minute microlight flight that afternoon with Batoka Sky. They’d flown across Victoria Falls, then the Mosi-o-Tunya National Park as well as the river below the Falls, where the huge, wide Zambezi transforms into a narrow gorge containing some of the world’s wildest white water rapids! Wow! Jeff and Tiffany spoke too of their lion encounter scheduled for the next day, and of their two day/one night trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, with accommodation at Chobe Safari Lodge, with river safaris and game drives scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

How had they chosen accommodation at Chanters Lodge in Livingstone? “Mostly from reviews on the internet.” Jeff revealed. “Pleased with your choice?” Asked Milli Jam. “We’ll let you know later in the week!” Said Tiffany quickly. “Maybe it is time she was back with her husband and baby son in Pretoria” thought I!

The music was Milli Jam’s own choice, beautiful and softer than I’d expected when I gave him the mission. Taylor Swift, Dido, Brandy ft Ne-Yo, Faith Hill and Shania Twain. ‘Cotton Eyed Jo’ by Rednex for Ireen at home, who loves that track. The local numbers were K’Millian’s ‘Alema’ (‘you’ve got one more chance to get in line before I leave you’ – she says to him) and Roberto ft Gen Ozzy with Nikutshe (‘thanks for everything‘ – he says to her). A nice contrast and both great numbers. No hip-hop anywhere, though Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ was a beefed up remix, good too!

“You’ve got nice voices” said George Soulchild (on technical) smoothly to our guests, “can you come in tomorrow and record some voice-overs for our 107.5 fm jingles?” Talk about poaching! They kindly agreed – assuming they said, that they survived their early morning lion encounter! “Do you work?” Milli Jam asked Tiffany, changing the subject. She told listeners she’d worked in advertising before her baby was born, but that she’d been studying social sciences while nursing Fin. After this holiday she’d start practical welfare training. “Where would you like to be, and what would you like to be doing ten years from now?” Milli Jam asked our guests. Jeff wanted to be thinner, healthy and married with a family, and Tiffany with at least one more addition to her family living near Bondai Beach in Australia. Don’t bet against it!

Lovely couple, fun show! Thanks and greetings were aired all round. We offered a dinner for two at Chanters Lodge as a prize to the first person to text me the name of the British Prime Ministe,r and we had the worst response ever! Now there’s a thing Gordon! Eventually and after a long delay we got a winner – Joyce by name!


Mr Piano Man

Nope, not my weekly review of our radio show The Chanters Lodge experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient as you might have thought, (you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that), but a nice piece from Hotel Chatter about an hotel in Colorado Springs! Mind you ‘Mr Piano Man’ by Brandy, from her latest wonderful, album ‘Human’ is one of my favourites at the moment, and of course that’s her fabulous photo! Here’s the piece!

“We’re staying at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs this weekend to attend BBQ University with grill guru Steven Raichlen. The reasons why we love The Broadmoor are too plentiful to list, but beyond spa-ing and shopping (we hear there are 75%-off sales at several of the boutiques), we love to make the on-property eating and drinking rounds.

The super fancy (yet charmingly old-school) Five-Diamond Penrose School is fabulous for special occasions. We swoon for the cocktails at the super hip Adam Tihany-designed Summit Lounge. But our guilty pleasure is cozying up to the piano at the Golden Bee with an ice cold, locally brewed beer.

The Golden Bee is a 19th century pub (on the verge of its big 5-0 birthday) that was picked up and transplanted from England. Every night, resident ragtime piano player Bud Kruezer hammers away at the piano while pub-grubbing guests down yards of beer and sing along with the songbooks. The vibe is convivial, even more so as the beer flows and the night goes on. Most requested songs include Sweet Caroline, Margaritaville, and, of course, Piano Man.

We admit, it does sound hokey, but until you’ve downed a yard a beer and gotten into a brave, sing-a-long kind of spirit, you can’t imagine just how much fun the Golden Bee can be. We honed our non-American Idol-worthy singing skills a few weeks ago doing karaoke in Juneau, AK and can hardly wait to bust out a few songs tonight.”


The Yellow Lobster

I loved this from FreshInc!

“If you’re going to make a mess, make it a big one. That’s the lesson Seattle entrepreneur and angel investor Andy Sack gives to his portfolio companies in regards to innovation. Specifically, rather than tinkering around with existing business models, Sack suggests that if you really want to create something new, then you must break with the traditional ways of doing things and make a full push to innovate. Or as he puts it, “If you’re going to break the model, don’t just break it a little.”

He cites the iPhone as an example of such a game-changer. Coincidentally, CNN’s offbeat story of a yellow lobster found by fishermen in Massachusetts also manages to illustrate Sack’s point, albeit in a weird kind of way. Thousands and thousands of lobsters are caught everyday, but not many of them make the front page of CNN’s Web site. By being completely different, this lucky, yellow-tinged crustacean not only managed to make front-page news but he also found a way to avoid the lobster pot.

Moral of the story: It pays to be different!”


Mustaphas Place, Zanzibar

“Beam me up Scotty!”

Surprising what you find on the internet. I came across Mustaphas in Zanzibar on Twitter. I was having a lousy Friday at Chanters Lodge, which got no better as it went along, and in what HotelChatter might call a ‘cubicle moment’ I wanted to go to Zanzibar immediately! Here’s all about it:

“The rooms at Mustapha’s are one-of-a-kind. Designed organically by Mustapha, Culture and their friends, they vary from smaller bandas with access to quirky (and nearby) shared bathrooms to larger bungalows with their own bathrooms. From the African stylings of the Round Room, to the jungle charm of the Treetop Room, there is a room for everyone.

Treetop Room – nestling up high, this room built with wooden poles is airy and charming, as well as being a bargain.

Green Room – for those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, the green room is a comfortable and affordable option.

Yellow Room – this bigger room is good for those with children, or small groups travelling together on a budget.

Swiss Banda – a sizeable and characterful bungalow with space for four people, but also good for couples wanting a bit of space

Jacuzze – opposite the bar, this bungalow is comfortable and charming – good for couples but can sleep more if necessary.

Africa House – also known as “Honeymoon”, this bungalow is slightly tucked away from the rest, so good for romantics, or families with children.

Yes, we’ll have Africa House please!

Prices for the rooms at Mustapha’s are low compared to most hotels on the island and you get access to the same stunning beach and beautiful plant life as many expensive luxury hotels, but with a more laidback vibe.

Just take me there – not but!


The Best Of Zambia

After months of dithering I’ve decided Chanters Lodge should appear on the Best of Zambia site. They have a good idea, energy and skills and although it will cost I’d rather be in than out.
Here’s what they say about themselves:

“The Best of Zambia presents a rich resource of everything you need for a great Zambian experience. It showcases Zambia and the finest services available in Zambia against a backdrop of enlightening gems of information. It’s for visitors and residents. It’s for individuals, for those in business and for those in development.

Considered to be one of the safest places on earth, Zambia is beautiful, friendly and an increasingly popular choice for an African holiday and adventure travel. Home of the Victoria Falls, locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, acknowledged as one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world.

But what you’ll discover in Zambia is more than the mighty Victoria Falls. “If you’re out to experience the ‘real’ Africa, Zambia is that diamond in the rough. The country boasts some of the continent’s best wildlife parks, and shares (with Zimbabwe) some of the region’s major highlights …. if you enjoy a raw edge and an Africa with few tourists, Zambia is the place you’re looking for.” (The Lonely Planet website) Zambia is the dream location for the Africa safari and adventure travel.

There is a lot of information about Zambia on the internet but it is scattered and tends to come from travel agents promoting regular Africa holiday packages and adventure travel. The Best of Zambia is different, giving you the tools to create a tailor made experience for yourself whether you’re a resident, diplomat, Africa holiday maker or business person.

Not just for those looking for an Africa safari.There are four main sections to the site. There’s everything the discerning tourist needs to begin their Africa safari journey. Many also come to Zambia as country representatives and international development workers and the Best of Zambia accommodates their needs too. It also caters for residents (local and from overseas) and local and international investors and businesses.

We believe the internet is a great leveller and Zambia can now compete globally. Our vision is to put Zambia on the map by creating a strong internet presence, successfully promoting Zambia and those operating in Zambia. Our mission is to create the best resource for entrepreneurs and organisations to effectively showcase their services to visitors and residents alike.”

With costs rapidly rising and competition in Livingstone in the lodging industry as robust as ever, the only answer is increased occupancy. Anything that gives us a better chance of achieving this has value – I strongly anticipate that Best of Zambia, though a relatively new project will. Let’s hope I’m right!


Food & Beverage

This (shortened piece) from Beth Kormanik at interested me, click the link for the whole article. I’ve commented below each paragraph in bold italics on how I think the piece reflects our situation at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone.

“During a recession, as the truism goes, bar sales go up. But could a properly priced beer, drive room sales at full-service hotels, too? That’s the belief of Michael George, president and CEO Crescent Hotels & Resorts, which owns, operates and manages hotels for institutional investors. In his experience, bar business is up “substantially,” especially at full-service hotels that also have a nice atmosphere and an attractive staff.”

We have a nice atmosphere, reasonably priced beer and attractive staff but our bar sales are static. Would we be more profitable if we just offered bed and breakfast? I often ask myself, and how would that effect our Guests.

“One of the simplest things we did to drive cash flow was to properly set our beer prices,” he said. “Properly priced Bud moves rooms.”

We are about to ‘adjust’ all our food and beverage prices in view of increased costs. What constitutes ‘properly priced’? I wonder.

Thomas Edward Middleton, Jr., a senior vice president at Hilton Hotels Corporation, said guests are eating more meals outside their hotels and that the F&B spend across the Hilton brand is down as much as 50 percent. Hilton’s ideas to recapture guest F&B spend include bringing in celebrity chefs, well-known concepts and menus that feature fresh, simple and healthy foods. They also are outsourcing. “It’s always amazed me, in the hotel business all companies struggle with F&B,” he said. “The best thing we’ve come up with is third-party leases. It’s very difficult to lose with third-party leases.”

Now where would we find celebrity chefs and/or a third party lease in Livingstone….? We do offer fresh, simple and fairly healthy foods but have to accept that lots of tourists want to experience the restaurants that Livingstone has to offer. Attracting outsiders to eat here seems more and more difficult.

But George argued that food and beverage outlets should not be considered an “evil necessity” to outsource. He said Crescent operates all of its own F&B outlets and they add a crucial edge over select-service hotels. “From a food component, the point of being full service is to be convenient at a good price,” he said. “Put the focus on it. The guests are looking for it.”

Sometimes our bar and restaurant seem to be an ‘evil necessity’ at other times great fun and good earners! It largely depends on the Guests we have staying.

“Wyndham Hotels and Resorts President Jeff Wagoner said the key is to be flexible and match the right food concept for every hotel. One hotel recently was asked to implement a “grab and go” feature, which normally is the hallmark of select-service properties. This particular hotel was not in a commercial area that would attract walk-by traffic from the neighborhood and its restaurant was suffering. “You don’t want to force it and have restaurant where you’re not going to have profit,” Wagoner said.”

Our menu evolves to reflect local cuisine and the most popular of our dishes on offer with timely innovation too.

“The old full service generic hotel direction is a wave of the past, like Top 40 radio,” she said. “We’re in the iPod generation. Everything is customized and focused on the future. We have to be in tune with our consumer and how they’re changing. The chains that understand that and innovate as times change are the ones that will succeed.”

Radio’s still popular in these parts (thank goodness), but in my car? Mp3!
The picture’s of part of our restaurant at Chanters Lodge.

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